Boris Johnson is not a politician who stays out of the headlines for very long. Having got through the Privileges Committee last week, this week may well herald the publication of his resignation honours list. Batten down the hatches. Johnson’s list is likely to be as long as Liz Truss’s is short. Indeed, some people argue that given Liz Truss was prime minister for only 49 days, she isn’t entitled to give anyone any honours. This is churlish. All prime ministers, no matter how short serving, are entitled to one. If Rishi Sunak has any sense, he will publish both at the same time and get two tricky political dilemmas out of the way in one fell swoop.
I listened to the entirety of his evidence to the Privileges Committee on Wednesday. I don’t know if my view is influenced by the fact that I listened to it, rather than watched it, but I didn’t think the Committee covered itself with glory. They didn’t need to spend so much time rehearsing each of the parties or events, the details of which we already knew. Their task was to prove that Boris Johnson had deliberately lied to the House of Commons, although it seems they have changed the charge to ‘recklessly lied’. That is a different accusation and one which I suppose is easier to make stick. Select Committee inquisitions can be very revealing. This wasn’t. The only two MPs to really take him to task in a meaningful way were his two Conservative colleagues, Sir Bernard Jenkin and Alberto Costa, although even they, like their colleagues, stuck too rigidly to their pre-prepared questions. All of them failed to listen to Boris Johnson’s answers and then pick them apart. They just moved on to their next prepared question. Amateur night.
I’m certainly not going to claim that our ex prime minister covered himself in glory, but he seemed across the detail for once, and only lost his cool on one occasion.
At the moment I think it’s “case unproven”. If you already hate Boris Johnson, you’ve already found him guilty. And if you’re a fan you no doubt regard the whole thing as a ‘Kangaroo Court’ (copyright Nadine Dorries). Yes, he does have a record of being economical with the actualite, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily guilty here. Or if he is, it’s for the Committee to prove it. And as yet, they haven’t. And don’t take this as me being a Boris supporter. I never have been, and I’m not about to start now. But I do believe in natural justice.